Legal Aid News: November 2020

Welcome to our update of the latest legal aid and access to justice news from November 2020.

 

YLAL Event on How to get your dream job in Legal Aid.

YLAL hosted an event explaining how to secure your dream role within the Legal Aid Sector. Featuring a panel of speakers who have taken various routes in establishing legal careers across a range of practise areas. The event included discussions around career prospects for students as the COVID-19 Pandemic has struck, whether a career in Legal Aid can be sustainable and how to accumulate experience that will allow students to stand out in application forms. Each speaker had their own experience into the profession and along the way accumulated advice they would give to those who have just started to work their way into the legal industry. The event was recorded and can now be viewed online.

 

Ruling passed which allows victims of domestic abuse with assets trapped in a home access to legal aid. 

A ruling has passed which allows survivors of domestic abuse that have “trapped capital”, such as assets within a home owned jointly with their abusers, access to legal aid. This comes after many years of domestic abuse survivors being rejected for legal aid on the basis that their trapped capital inhibits their eligibility. No doubt the judgment is a tremendous win for survivors of domestic abuse and means that the Legal Aid Agency can adopt a “less restrictive” approach to granting legal aid. The full judgment by Mr Justice Pepperall can be read here.

 

Submissions have been made to prevent the undermining of Judicial Review. 

Many organisations, including Young Legal Aid Lawyers, have submitted responses in an attempt to prevent Judicial Review from being undermined. YLAL highlighted a number of factors regarding Judicial Review, including how it promotes lawful decision making, plays a “protective” role in providing urgent relief to those in a crisis and why it needs to be made more accessible, amongst many other points made.

 

The Public Law Project also submitted a response with the same underlying theme, stating that any attempt to limit the scope of Judicial Review should be heavily resisted. Both responses challenged any proposals to reform Judicial Review and the potential consequences of doing so.

 

Inquiry launched into the sustainability of Legal Aid. 

The Westminster Commission on Legal Aid has launched an inquiry into the sustainability of Legal Aid in the present and in the future. Evidence will be heard on Criminal Legal Aid, Family Legal Aid, Civil Legal Aid, The Publicly Funded Bar, Access to Justice & Diversity and Routes into the Profession. The inquiry launched with Criminal Legal Aid and an oral evidence session took place. Evidence was given from a varied selection of individuals, each providing a unique insight.  This session was followed by Family Legal Aid which can be watched here. The impact of recent policy and the COVID-19 pandemic on the Legal Aid will be discussed and investigated.

 

Can exceptional case funding be used in a creative manner to allow access to justice in areas that fall out of the scope of legal aid? 

Ollie Persey, co-chair of YLAL, questions whether exceptional case funding requires thinking outside of the box. ECF was introduced as a safety net after the introduction of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 which took areas of law outside the scope of legal aid. Immigration and family have received the highest amounts of ECF applications in 2020. Ollie discussed how there is potential for many other areas of law to benefit from ECF and the effect this would have on the legal system. The full article by Ollie can be read here.

 

We are very grateful to YLAL member Maariyaah Zamir for this write-up. If you'd like to volunteer to write up a future YLAL event, email ylalinfo@gmail.com